Emirates is giving passengers rapid tests for Covid-19 before boarding

Emirates is giving passengers rapid tests for Covid-19 before boarding

Emirates Airlines has become the first airline in the world to screen passengers for coronavirus using a pre-boarding blood test. The  Dubai based carrier started administering rapid result tests to passengers on-site in a check-in area of Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport on Wednesday.

It was  conducted by the Dubai Health Authority, were given to passengers on a flight departing Dubai for Tunisia before they were allowed access to the gate and permitted to board. During the tests, blood is drawn from a finger prick and the results are processed in just 10 minutes. Emirates says that it plans on expanding the coronavirus blood tests for flights to nations that require arriving passengers be screened for the virus.

The airline described the testing as successful, but it is not immediately available for widespread use.

“We are working on plans to scale up testing capabilities in the future and extend it to other flights” Adel Al Redha, the airline’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

“this will enable us to conduct on-site tests and provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers travelling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates.”

The testing accompanies other changes on Emirates. Passengers are now required to wear masks throughout boarding and flight. Gone are in-flight magazines, and carry-on luggage isn't permitted – only small items like handbags and briefcases.

Etihad Airways, which is also based in the United Arab Emirates, said last week that it is trialing new kiosks that can monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of a person checking in for a flight or dropping a bag. If there are signs of illness, the kiosk will suspend the check-in or drop-off and alert a staff member. The kiosks are being tested at the airport in Abu Dhabi.

The airline industry has been hit hard by a steep decline in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of people flying in the U.S. is down 95% since the beginning of March.

However, technical and manufacturing challenges could present challenges to quickly and effectively scaling the testing up.